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Nagaland, Kerala Institutes Set Up Education Grid

Press Information Bureau
Two institutes, one in Nagaland and the other in Kerala, have come together in a distance learning plan onnecting their students through a fibre-optic line that runs along rail tracks. The 3,800-km fibre-optic education grid (edugrid), activated between Dimapur and Thiruvananthapuram stations, is the first formal education grid between two institutes located in the two farthest states of the country. The link has raised the possibility of setting up an education hub around every railway station in the country.

Nagaland University vice-chancellor K. Kannan said: “The connectivity has been streamlined in six weeks. Students at the School of Engineering in Dimapur will get access to some 6,000 hours of video lectures by 350 teachers from the seven IITs and the Indian Institute of Science. Indian Institute of Technology and Management, Kerala, is the facilitator.”

RailTel, a subsidiary of the railways, has also launched Wi-Fi Net access (a type of wireless service that does away with cables) at select stations. Students at the Dimapur institute will benefit from RailTel's high-bandwidth Internet connections. The connectivity for institutes deeper inside Nagaland will have to be offered using wireless technologies since RailTel's cables will end at Dimapur station.

The distance learning project of Nagaland University and the Indian Institute of Technology and Management, Kerala, shows RailTel Corporation of India's 32,500-km fibre optic cables, laid along the tracks, can ensure “hub-and-spoke” communication access -- broadband and other links -- for education in the country.

Mani Shankar Aiyar, the Union minister of panchayati raj who is also in charge of Northeast affairs, inaugurated the broadband terrestrial grid between the two institutes here recently. He stressed that the interactive link, now limited to the two institutes, should be developed as a double-lane communication highway between Kerala and Nagaland.

This will ensure that Nagaland students gain from the teachers of the Kerala institute while the southern state imbibed Nagaland's development initiatives, such as its schemes aimed at attaining 100 per cent literacy in villages.

The edugrid could be a beginning to make education an engine for the growth, transformation and development of the northeastern state, Aiyar said in the presence of Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio, Kerala education minister M.A. Baby and K.R. Srivathsan, the director of the Thiruvananthapuram institute.

Rio said the education link would help boost development and pointed out that his state had signed agreements with Kerala to share information on health, education and agriculture plans. Vice-chancellor Kannan said other colleges and schools in Nagaland would be linked to the edugrid in later stages. The grid will ensure that the lack of trained teachers would not hamper the development of Nagaland where, like many areas of the northeast, vast areas can't be reached by road or other communication modes.

The grid runs another distance-learning plan, the National Programme on Technology-Enhanced Learning, where study material can be downloaded free. RailTel is free to lay its fibre-optic cables along the railways' 63,000km of tracks, passing through 7,000 stations. RailTel executive director A. Seshagiri Rao said optic-fibre cables were unaffected by disturbances such as storms but wireless connectivity could be disrupted in such situations.                        Thiruvananthapuram, July 2008  

Courtesy: Press Information Bureau